More than 70 million Americans suffer from chronic digestive disorders, and gastrointestinal issues are the most common reason for hospitalization.
While there are a number of health promoting natural agents in nature's pharmacy, health science continues to uncover new and novel ingredients to heal the gut in unique ways.
Enter, then, 2-fucosyllactose (2-FL). 2-FL is a nature-identical Human Milk Oligosaccharide, the most abundant prebiotic found in human breast milk.
Several functions have been attributed to 2-FL, including the ability to support the growth of beneficial microbiota and significant increased production of short chain fatty acids, including butyrate, and the ability to increase and normalize motility.
2-FL also works by blocking potentially harmful pathogenic bacteria from adhering to host cell receptors by acting as a decoy molecule. In other words, instead of adhering to intestinal epithelial cells, pathogens will be attracted to the 2-FL, binding to it and hence being escorted out of the body in the stool. In research, 2-FL has been shown to act as an anti-adhesive antimicrobial to campylobacter jejuni, vibrio cholera, E. coli, and norovirus.
In fact, in a 6-week trial at the Functional Medicine Research Center (FMRC) in Gig Harbor, Washington, a functional food drink mix containing 2-FL was given to patients with previously diagnosed IBS, IBD, and celiac disease. In that study, 8 potentially harmful bacteria were identified at baseline. At the end of the study, 7 of the 8 total pathogen species were no longer detected.
Butyrate and Short Chain Fatty Acids
Interest has been recently rekindled in short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) with the emergence of prebiotics and probiotics aimed at improving colonic and systemic health. SFCAs include the sum of butyrate, acetate, and propionate.
Butyrate is the major energy source for colonocytes and is considered an anti-inflammatory fat. Butyrate also helps to support apoptosis of the cells lining the gut, and is the most important source of energy for those cells. (More on butyrate here.)
Specific SCFA may reduce the risk of developing gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Acetate is the principal SCFA in the colon. Propionate, a gluconeogenerator, has been shown to inhibit cholesterol synthesis.
In that same study at the FMRC featuring the functional food containing 2-FL, total SCFA increased by a mean of 72.2%, and butyrate alone increased by a mean of 72.7%, an amazing increase in these health-promoting fatty acids.
Huge Bifidobacteria Proliferation
It's one thing to give probiotics to help supply the GI with beneficial bacteria, and that is always a good thing. But helping the bacteria that is already there to multiply is also extremely helpful for the microbiota.
Isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMOs) are a prebiotic soluble fiber and help to increase the growth of bifidobacteria, which 2-FL also does. In the aforementioned study on patients with previously diagnosed celiac, IBD, and IBS, bifidobacteria increased by an astounding 1900% in 6 weeks!
It is no surprise, then, that patients in this study showed significantly improved quality of life scores.
A Better Form of L-Glutamine
Glutamine is an important amino acid for epithelial cell repair and function. What is not as widely known is that L-glutamine in the free form, which is the most commonly used form, is not as well absorbed as the dipeptide version. "Sustamine" is an L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine dipetide that is designed to be absorbed faster and with less energy than a single amino acid. Dipetides and amino acids require a transporter to carried across the cell membranes. This helps to facilitate absorption. In fact, Sustamine has been shown to be absorbed 224% better than free from L-glutamine, possibly demonstrating better clinical outcomes at lower doses.
This form of dipeptide L-glutamine is also featured in the functional food studied at the FMRC, and this, combined with the 2-FL, IMOs, and other supportive macro and micronutrients, makes it a very good choice for nutritional support for health conditions related to intestinal permeability, as well as providing excellent nutrition for celiac, IBD, and IBS patients.